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Tale of the tee: Garvin's department store

ProductsNeal GouletComment
Garvins_Tee 2.jpg

Stay spent three Saturdays in December 2018 participating in Creatively Lancaster’s pop-up market at Park City Center. We were among dozens of vendors selling from tables in a portion of the former Bon-Ton department store.

We returned to the otherwise empty store April 13 for another Creatively Lancaster show. The Bon-Ton, which began in York, Pa., in 1898 and became a regional chain, went out of business in 2018 (although efforts are afoot to bring it back). If we project 44 years into the future, what will people remember about Bon-Ton?

I ask because 44 years ago, another department store went out of business in downtown Lancaster. Like Bon-Ton, Garvin’s, the self-described “store for the thrifty,” lasted for more than a century, albeit with one location.

Having only arrived in south-central Pennsylvania in 1991 and never having lived in Lancaster, I hadn’t heard of Garvin’s until 2018, when I stumbled upon one of its paper bags on eBay. My subsequent research revealed a fascinating company that for decades was at the heart of life in Lancaster.

That’s a big reason why we made Garvin’s the subject of our newest retro tee, joining a lineup of local brands of yesteryear that also includes our Helb’s Keystone Brewery (York), Herpak Franks (Harrisburg), and Flying Machine restaurant (Hershey) tees.

Next door to the courthouse

From a 1970 postcard, East King Street, Lancaster, looking toward Penn Square, Garvin’s (note the G logo on the brick facade) is next to the old Lancaster County Courthouse. (Copyright Melvin J. Horst)

From a 1970 postcard, East King Street, Lancaster, looking toward Penn Square, Garvin’s (note the G logo on the brick facade) is next to the old Lancaster County Courthouse. (Copyright Melvin J. Horst)

Milton Thomas Garvin, a native of Fulton Township in southern Lancaster County, moved to the city of Lancaster at age 14 in 1863 and became an errand boy at an East King Street dry goods store called R.E. Fahnestock. Garvin worked his way up the ranks and, after Fahnestock’s death, bought the store in 1894, renaming it M.T. Garvin & Co.

At that time, the store comprised one building, just west of the county courthouse. Garvin’s purchased adjacent buildings in 1912 and in 1927, according to the Elizabethtown Chronicle newspaper. Upon completion of the expansion and renovation, it became known as the “Greater Garvin Store” in the company’s print ads.

A 1929 Garvin’s ad in the Chronicle promoted Suburban Day Saturday:

“A day when our Country friends and customers will come to Garvin’s by the hundreds to obtain the biggest bargains of the Spring season.” For example, women’s coats normally priced $14.75 to $19.50 were on sale for $12.

Garvin’s also gave back to its employees. When Hershey Park (it was two words back then) opened a new restaurant in July 1916, the Harrisburg Telegraph reported, it was “inaugurated by a party of employees of M.T. Garvin & Co. of Lancaster, who brought hundreds of flags to show their patriotism.”

The American economy entered a mild recession in summer 1929 (a Great Depression would arrive that fall). On June 27, Garvin’s closed for its annual picnic, held at the Carsonia amusement park in Reading.

“Special trolley cars will convey the picnicers to the Park, while others will go by automobile,” according to the Chronicle. “Sports and games of various sorts have been arranged.”

In July, to mark the federal government’s release of new currency, Garvin’s released 100 balloons into the air. Each balloon bore a tag that could be redeemed for a new one-dollar bill (worth about $15 today).

In 1936, M.T. Garvin died of a heart attack at age 76. His store would continue for another 39 years.

Garvin’s tee

Our Garvin’s tee debuted at the April Creatively Lancaster show. Older shoppers were drawn to it; some had been customers or worked there. From them I learned that Garvin’s was among three downtown department stores, joining Hager’s and Watt & Shand on King Street. (How’s this for coming full-circle: Bon-Ton ended up at Park City through its purchase of Watt & Shand in 1992.)

When you bought something at Garvin’s, in the early days at least, you gave your money to a clerk who then put it into a pneumatic tube that was whisked away to a central cashier. The cashier would provide the appropriate change and send it back to the clerk.

One man told me that he worked at Garvin’s in two stints in the late 1950s, early 1960s. He said there was a small grocery in the basement, but the food warehouse was on the sixth floor. The goods could be moved to the basement by means of gravity, winding down a spiral chute.

One day he grabbed a piece of cardboard and road down the chute, only to land embarrassingly at the feet of the store president.

The man’s wife joined him toward the end of our conversation. “Did you tell him about the most important thing that happened to you at Garvin’s?” she asked.

He met her, she explained, during the several years she also was a Garvin’s employee.

By the 1970s, downtowns began to hollow out, in part because shopping tastes shifted to shiny new enclosed malls such as Park City Center, which opened in 1971. The end came for Garvin’s in November 1975, the Lebanon Daily News citing the high cost of doing business, high interest rates on bank loans, the calling of a bank loan, and disruption of the business by local construction among the reasons for the store’s closing.

For 118 employees, the closing meant lost jobs. For Lancaster, it was the loss of a downtown institution after 129 years.

But 44 years since the closing, the Garvin’s name is back in a small way on our tee. And the old Garvin’s store is coming back, too, as the new headquarters for Woodstream Corp., a maker of pest control and lawn and garden products that is relocating 180 jobs to the site from Lititz.


With a wave to the past, the classic felt pennant has made a big comeback

Products, VendorsNeal GouletComment
Our USA pennant, manufactured for us by Standard Pennant Co., Big Run, Pa.

Our USA pennant, manufactured for us by Standard Pennant Co., Big Run, Pa.

I had written several blog posts (for my public relations business) about some of my favorite U.S.-made products and brands when I decided to get in on the act.

It was fall 2016, and the holidays were soon upon us. I needed a couple of items that we could produce quickly. I reached out to one of those favorite U.S. brands, Oxford Pennant in Buffalo, N.Y., a designer and manufacturer of wool felt pennants, flags and banners. Oxford’s retro vibe fit well with my image for Stay Apparel Co., which I had been pondering for some time but hadn’t yet launched.

Oxford founders and owners Dave Horesh and Brett Mikoll helped me develop a retro Hershey pennant, on maroon felt with cream-colored band and screen print. It was in our initial lineup when Stay debuted in October 2017. In January 2018, we introduced a USA pennant, made for us by century-old Standard Pennant Co. in Big Run, Pa.

‘Started with a pennant’

Stay’s focus is mostly on tees branded for places: Hershey, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Lititz, Happy Valley, Philly, Pennsylvania, USA. But the Stay logo is a flag, and pennants are a perfect accessory for our brand, given that historically they have been one of the best ways to convey a pride of place: of cities and towns; of colleges and sports teams; of events and attractions. (Our Happy Valley tees, in short and long sleeves, feature a pennant design on the front.)

Our first product, a Hershey wool felt pennant we developed with Oxford Pennant in Buffalo, N.Y.

Our first product, a Hershey wool felt pennant we developed with Oxford Pennant in Buffalo, N.Y.

Perhaps you are familiar with the hat brand ’47. The name references 1947, the year that twin Italian immigrant brothers Henry and Arthur D’Angelo started Twins Enterprises in Massachusettts. I knew of Twins because the D’Angelo family for decades has operated a souvenir stand across from Fenway Park, home of my beloved Boston Red Sox.

An October 2018 story in Esquire explained that it wasn’t hats that got the D’Angelos started:

Arthur D’Angelo can’t recall much about his start with the brand, but his son, Bobby, helps translate some of the stories he can recall his dad telling. Namely, that the brand so heavily focused on hats and T-shirts nowadays actually started with a pennant.

“After World War II, the country was a different place,” says Bobby. “My father followed the Freedom Train, selling American pennants. The first one he sold was a Declaration of Independence pennant. Today, it’s all about hats and shirts. In those days it wasn’t; it was completely different back then.”

After the Declaration of Independence pennant came the Red Sox ones. The Red Sox won the American League Pennant in 1946; the brothers thought selling sports pennants might work as well as peddling political ones. So they started ’47 (originally Twin Enterprises). They sold the pennants alongside newspapers and, eventually, baseball caps.

Pennants can put you in a time and a place but are timeless.

I can remember my parents buying me a blue-with-white felt pennant with “Lisbon” printed on it when we attended an open house at Lisbon Elementary School in Maine. I ordered a pennant from the old Philadelphia Firebirds hockey team when I was a kid; it was one of the rigid ones that were popular in the 1970s and, to my great chagrin, arrived folded in an envelope! I gave throwback felt pennants from Philadelphia-based Mitchell & Ness as gifts to a couple newspaper colleagues when they moved on to new jobs.

Pennants can come in different sizes (ours are 7 inches by 21 inches; 9 inches by 27 inches is another popular dimension), but unlike tees they don’t face the challenge of fitting a human form.

Pennants are an inexpensive way to decorate (ours sell for $20), whether pinned to a bulletin board or framed behind glass or sewn to a pillow.

Most important, pennants are fun. Try looking at Oxford’s assortment without smiling or even laughing: see exhibit A and exhibit B, for instance.

We envision adding more pennants in the future (if you have an idea, please send it to hello@stayapparel.com). Classic wool felt pennants will always have a home at Stay.

Long may they wave.











Pocket change: a call for American consumers to ‘buy less but better’

ProductsNeal GouletComment
American Giant’s pop-up store in SoHo, New York City.

American Giant’s pop-up store in SoHo, New York City.

My drive from the Stay global headquarters in Hershey to Central Market in York one Saturday morning in January coincided with WITF-FM’s re-airing of an episode of “How I Built This,” the popular podcast “about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built.”

I had heard this episode before, but something guest Yvon Chouinard said resonated with me upon a second listen. The founder of outdoor brand Patagonia (incredibly, I had not known that he grew up in my hometown in Maine until recently) maintained that his company still “owned” the products it sold.

He was referring to Patagonia’s “ironclad guarantee,” which promises that products not performing to a customer’s satisfaction can be returned “for a repair, replacement or refund.” Used Patagonia products also can be traded in for merchandise credit.

Chouinard allowed that his products are not inexpensive but are built with durability and practicality in mind. He suggested buying a ski jacket that also can be worn over a suit coat in a rainstorm in New York City.

“Own fewer things,” he said, “but really good things.”

Giving purpose to purchases

That line struck me because it’s a position I’ve taken to heart, focusing my purchases on really good things made in America.

Stay sells only U.S.-made clothing and accessories and always will. I believe that American-made products are of better quality because they adhere to higher standards than cheap imports do. And buying American keeps dollars in U.S. communities and helps to employ fellow Americans.

To live the buy-American credo sometimes takes a little more effort (inspecting labels, sending emails to a retailer’s customer service to verify a product’s country of origin, searching online) but ultimately is liberating in that it gives purpose and structure to my purchases. It’s a philosophy that I hope more of my fellow Americans will adopt for the good of us all.

No doubt, America’s shrinking middle class and widening income inequality have macro-economic causes, but American consumers individually bear responsibility, too, after decades of demanding and devouring ever-lower prices, literally buying into the notion that it doesn’t matter where things are made as long as they don’t cost much. (Great line from the song “Morning Moon” by Canada’s The Tragically Hip: “Someone’s paying when something’s too cheap.”)

It’s a trend that has hollowed out the American apparel industry and with it much of our manufacturing base, jobs and communities. As recently as the 1990s, half of the apparel sold in the United States was made here. Now it’s only 3 percent.

Three percent.

American-made flannel’s return

At the end of 2018, Woolrich closed its legendary woolen mill in its northern Pennsylvania hometown. A year earlier, the last American factory making high-end selvedge denim, operated by Cone Mills in Greensboro, N.C., closed its doors.

Yet there are pockets of hope. Dearborn Denim, founded in 2016, makes fantastic blue jeans in Chicago, selling direct to customers online and at two Windy City stores. Given the comfort, fit and price (starting at $60), they’re a great value.

I always look forward to Dearborn Denim’s email updates. Founder Rob McMillan does a great job of keeping customers abreast of operational developments, including a late-January announcement that the company has switched from a domestic denim source to a Mexican mill – operated by Cone Mills.

McMillan wrote:

No lie: the remaining stretch denim made in the USA simply does not meet our high standards … a devastating realization for us. This news has inspired us to begin plans for building out our own denim mill — operating here in Chicago. That plan is at least 4 years away and requires a great deal of work, support, and luck to be possible.

It’s easy to get behind a guy like McMillan and a brand such as Dearborn. I feel the same way about founder Bayard Winthrop and his American Giant, which began in 2012. San Francisco-based American Giant earned cult status when its hoodie was dubbed “the greatest sweatshirt ever made.”

The company is in the process of rolling out the first shirts sewn from American-made flannel in decades. The New York Times chronicled the quest in a lengthy story last year.

Like Dearborn, American Giant has a direct-to-consumer approach. In a Q&A with the Aspen Ideas Festival, Winthrop offered this take:

I think what the internet and e-commerce has allowed for is really a fundamental rethinking of business structures. In our case, our direct-to-consumer brand uses an American-made supply chain, and leverages what the internet allows businesses to do. With that, we can think about building great American products again, and price them in a way that takes them out of the fashion boutiques of Brooklyn and brings them to main street. I think it’s a pretty compelling and revolutionary idea.

American Giant may be the best thing that has happened to U.S. apparel in decades. But while its prices aren’t Brooklyn boutique, they might induce sticker shock among the segment of American consumers who have been weaned on “always low prices.”

Local makers

This brings us back to what Patagonia’s Chouinard said: “Own fewer things but really good things.”

For me, the really good things are American made. Other favorites of mine include Flowfold, in my native Maine, for duffel bags and backpacks; Boathouse in Philadelphia for performance outerwear; Minnesota’s Faribault Woolen Mill Co., which started the year Abraham Lincoln died, for the coolest-looking winter mittens.

Of course, don’t forget your local makers, which Stay is proud to join at pop-up markets including the Harrisburg Flea, York Flea, Creatively Lancaster and Pop Up Ave in State College.

I heard an echo of Patagonia’s Chouinard (his company sells some American-made items but you have to look for them; the company provided me with a list) in a recent Instagram post by Stars and Stripes Collective, which sells U.S.-made clothing and housewares in Sister Bay, Wis.

In part, the post said, “when people buy less, but choose well – it slows down Mindless Consumption and helps people save up for something they really want to buy, but more importantly, something they love – and will take care of – things that can be handed down to the next generation.”

An approach of “buying less but better” – and, yes, sometimes at a higher cost – sure seems like a better bet for Americans than continuing a race to the bottom in an indiscriminate pursuit of ever-lower prices.

We have seven tees available in unisex size 2XL

ProductsNeal GouletComment
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Here's some big news: In addition to unisex sizes small through XL, Stay now offers seven shirts in unisex size 2XL:

All of our tees are available on our website, but we also try to bring a deep selection to every pop-up event we attend. If you want to be certain that we have an item at a given appearance, please send us an email at hello@stayapparel.com at least one day ahead of time. We’ll do our best to accommodate any request.

Tale of the tee: John Updike heart

ProductsNeal GouletComment
KidsWomens_Heart_together 2.jpg

Before he was a world-famous novelist, including the four-book “Rabbit” series, before he won Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards, Pennsylvania native John Updike was an aspiring cartoonist growing up in Shillington, Berks County.

As a 15-year-old, in 1948, he wrote a letter to Harold Gray, the creator of the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip. Four fawning paragraphs led to a final one:

“All this well-deserved praise is leading up to something, of course, and the catch is a rather big favor I want you to do for me. I need a picture to alleviate the blankness of one of my bedroom walls, and there is nothing that I would like better than a little momento [sic] of the comic strip I have followed closely for over a decade. So — could you possibly send me a little autographed sketch of Annie that you have done yourself? I realize that you probably have some printed cards you send to people like me, but could you maybe do just a quick sketch by yourself? Nothing fancy, just what you have done yourself. I [sic] you cannot do this (and I really wouldn’t blame you) will you send me anything you like, perhaps an original comic strip?”

Updike, who died 10 years ago this month, recalled in a 2004 article in The Guardian that Gray responded with "a drawing, possibly the standard photo he had on hand with a personal comment in a talk balloon."

‘Happy Valentine’s Day’

Fast forward to Feb. 14, 1996 — Valentine’s Day — and Updike was one month shy of his 64th birthday. The night before, he had spoken at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster and now he was on campus signing his new novel, “In the Beauty of the Lilies.” My girlfriend at the time waited in a long line with a copy of the book she would give to me.

Updike signed the title page: “for Neal Happy Valentine’s Day John Updike”

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But the cartoonist in him couldn’t resist, so he drew a heart with lace around it and an arrow cutting through.

Not only are the drawing and the story behind it compelling, but Updike’s ties to Berks County and the creation of the heart in Lancaster ring true to Stay’s focus on a sense of place.

That’s why we’ve reproduced the heart — in pink ink on red fabric — on the front of our first children’s sizes and our first women’s cut.

Concluding his request letter to Gray, 15-year-old Updike wrote: “Whatever I get will be appreciated, framed, and hung.”

He typed that letter on Jan. 2, 1948.

We’re introducing the Updike heart tee on that exact day, 71 years later. The heart he drew for me remains appreciated and now is, effectively, framed and hung on the front of our newest tees.






When shopping this holiday season, ask yourself: Is there an American-made option?

ProductsNeal GouletComment
Everything Stay sells is made in America, from Big Run, Pa., to Buffalo, from Lewiston, Maine to Milwaukee.

Everything Stay sells is made in America, from Big Run, Pa., to Buffalo, from Lewiston, Maine to Milwaukee.

Sara and I replaced the original 18-year-old garage doors on our home this fall. At the same time, we upgraded four antiquated exterior lights.

We searched online for U.S.-made lighting options, which proved limited. We relented and bought a set that, as I suspected, turned out to be made in China.

They were junk. The next day, I was at FedEx sending them back. I redoubled my search efforts and found Barn Light Electric Co. in Titusville, Fla.

Without the extra work, I wouldn’t have learned how Bryan and Donna Scott built the company out of a passion for old light fixtures; I wouldn’t know that Barn Light supports a work force of 80 people, including some recovering drug addicts; and we wouldn’t have four beautiful new lights proudly made in America.

Barn Light’s great story is that much better because it bucks the decades-long decline in American manufacturing. Even as recently as the 1990s, half of all clothing bought in the United States was made here. Today, it’s down to just 3 percent.

That staggering reversal of fortune has wreaked havoc on communities and families across the United States. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.

We as consumers have the power of our purses to demand American-made products. And there’s no brighter time, no righter time, than the holiday season.

Don’t let retailers off the hook

Holiday retail sales in November and December, according to the National Retail Federation, are expected to grow 4.3 percent to 4.8 percent, to between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. That compares with an average 3.9 percent annual growth for the past five years.

Imagine the benefit to the U.S. economy if we devoted even a fraction of that projected increase to buying American. My challenge to consumers is to ask a simple question with each holiday purchase you make this year: Is this made in the USA?

If not, look for a similar product that is. And if not, ask why not. Don’t let retailers off the hook. Encourage them to rethink what they’re doing. If retailers hear enough clamor for American-made products, they just might work harder to offer them.

We spent nearly twice as much on the Barn Light sconces than we did on the imports we returned, but the former are more attractive and more durable than the latter. Getting good value and helping to employ fellow Americans can be sources of great satisfaction.

Simply looking out for sales or signing up for an email newsletter in exchange for a discount code are great ways to hedge against the sometimes higher costs for domestic goods.

A craft beer experience

Yet another strategy: choose quality over quantity, especially when gifting to adults. I’d rather receive one thoughtfully chosen U.S.-made gift with a good story behind it than a greater quantity of generic stuff made wherever the labor was cheapest.

The approach I’m suggesting isn’t unknown to American consumers. Every day they vote with their pocketbooks in favor of domestic craft beer, sales of which grew 5 percent in 2017 while overall beer sales fell 1 percent, according to the Brewers Association. A growing segment of the population yearns for the high quality, selection and sense of community that craft brewers deliver, even if it has to pay a little more for the product.

If you want craft beer type experience with a broader assortment of American-made consumer goods, then look no further than local makers. In our area, these talented crafters offer everything from candles and soaps to pottery and jewelry to home décor and leather goods at pop-up events put on by the likes of Harrisburg Flea, York Flea and Creatively Lancaster.

Doing the sometimes hard work of seeking U.S.-made products instills discipline and a sense of purpose. What’s more, buying American is a great way to add new meaning to the holiday season.

Tale of the tee: Helb's Keystone Brewery

ProductsNeal GouletComment
Helb's Keystone Brewery tee, part of our initial retro series honoring brands of yesteryear.

Helb's Keystone Brewery tee, part of our initial retro series honoring brands of yesteryear.

In April 2018, Stay participated in York Flea's pop-up market at the Collusion Tap Works craft brewery in downtown York. After unloading our tent, tees and other products and supplies, we moved our Honda Pilot to a parking lot across King Street from Collusion.

Coincidentally, that parking lot had played host to a brewery from 1873 to 1950.

It was called Helb's Keystone Brewery, which we featured this year as part of our initial series of retro tees honoring brands of yesteryear in central Pennsylvania. The others are Herpak Franks of Harrisburg and The Flying Machine, a short-lived restaurant in Hershey.

Theodore R. Helb, who was from Shrewsbury Township in York County, learned brewing in Baltimore, according to the Gazette and Daily newspaper. He "built the brewery in 1897 after he had made a fortune starting from a one-man operation in 1873."

A Helb's ad in a November 1888 edition of the York Daily newspaper boasted of the beer: "Analyzed by chemists and pronounced absolutely pure. Recommended by physicians as a wholesome beverage." (One column over, a York druggist promoted a product guaranteed to cure "drunkenness or the liquor habit" when given to someone in their coffee or tea without their knowledge, sort of a reverse Mickey.)

A decade later, the York Daily reported that Helb's had completed an artesian well 215 feet deep that would provide 51,840 gallons of water per month for the brewery.

Back again!

In the early 20th century, Helb's was an innovator when it came to delivery. The Harrisburg Telegraph in June 1913 ran the headline: "York brewer was first to motorize delivery"

Theodore Helb was credited with being the first person to substitute electric-powered trucks for horse-drawn wagons. His "entire hauling outfit" was now electric, save for one gas car.

Of course, Prohibition banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States from 1920 to 1933. A November 1933 ad in the News-Comet newspaper in East Berlin, Adams County, hailed the end of Prohibition with the headline: "Helb's Beer is back again!"

Helb's advertised in the Evening Sun newspaper in Hanover, York County, in December 1939 to tout its "Holiday Special," proclaiming it master brewer Adolph Hartman's masterpiece. On the same page of the paper, Miller Buick offered a used 1936 five-passenger sedan with a trunk for $385.

G. Curtis Helb, nephew of the brewery's namesake founder, ran Helb's for 16 years before selling it in 1949 to Robert Beachaud of Williamsport, who had recently resigned as head of Flock's Brewery in his city, according to the Gazette and Daily in York. But Beachaud lasted only six months before he stopped making payments on a mortgage held by the nephew Helb.

In March 1951, G. Curtis Helb reacquired the brewery property at sheriff's sale for $86,000, the Gazette and Daily reporting that "future plans for the building are indefinite."

Helb's Keystone Brewery never returned.  

 

 

Buy American: We'll share some of our favorite brands

Branding, Products, VendorsNeal GouletComment
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We met Steven and Allison at our first Harrisburg Flea, on the frigid first Saturday of January 2018.

While explaining Stay's commitment to U.S.-made products, I also told them about a couple of my favorite domestic brands, American Giant and Dearborn Denim.

When I saw the Harrisburg couple again in March, Steven excitedly said to me, "Hey, look what I'm wearing," drawing attention to his Chicago-made Dearborn Denim jeans.

It wasn't quite "Miracle on 34th Street" with the Macy's Santa sending customers to rival Gimbels, but I won't hesitate to steer Stay customers to other U.S.-made brands that I hold in high regard. 

I pride myself on wearing some of them to our pop-up events, from Bills Khakis button-down shirts to New Balance sneakers, from my Shinola watch to my own Dearborn Denim jeans.

Sell the world a Stay tee

I've always been fond of U.S.-made products, having grown up in Maine when almost everything L.L. Bean sold was domestically produced. Unsurprising, starting Stay and sourcing our products, whether from Pennsylvania or Indiana, California or Cleveland, has reignited that passion in me.

To be sure, I have a vested interest in the Made in America movement. I would love to sell the world a Stay tee.

But I also believe that a movement has to be bigger than a few brands. So I try to recommend U.S.-made brands to customers who seem so inclined. When consumers know about U.S.-made options, they just might consider and even purchase them.

American-made products can be more expensive than their imported counterparts, but not always and sometimes with good reason: namely, they're built to last longer.

Most people just want a good product and a good value, regardless of country of origin. They're not wrong for doing that, but maybe they just haven't thought through the implications of relying too heavily on imports.

Even in this information age, there's great value in making physical goods. It's good for jobs and wages, which is good for communities. It's good for civic pride to be known for a product, right Hershey? 

It's good for the environment to source things nearer to where they are consumed. I'll go so far as to say that it's good for national security, because societies that can make things for themselves are less vulnerable to external events. 

Local makers

Since launching Stay in October 2017, we've been on the pop-up circuit: Harrisburg Flea, York Flea, Creatively Lancaster and, all summer 2018, Market on Chocolate. I never cease to be impressed by the talents and products on display from local makers.

The vendors you find at makers markets are the antidote to the utilitarian, experience-less state of most retail in America, akin to what local and regional craft brewers have done to revitalize a homogenized, stagnant national beer industry.

And even though the likes of American Giant and Dearborn Denim are far bigger than pop-up vendors, they share the same ethos. They love what they do, they engage with customers, and they make great products in America.

If you want to explore some of our favorite Made in USA brands for yourself, you can look at who we follow on Instagram.

Or come talk with us at a pop-up event near you, just like Steven and Allison. 

 

Tale of the tee: Herpak hot dogs

ProductsNeal GouletComment
All-cotton unisex fine jersey tee in cream.

All-cotton unisex fine jersey tee in cream.

It seems that at least once during every Stay pop-up event, someone comes up to us and says, "So tell me about Stay."

It should be clear that we sell tees, but inquisitors want to know more about our name and brand. It's flattering that they care enough to ask, and the queries always seem earnest.

I tell them that Stay evokes a sense of place, as I described in this post last fall. It's the places featured on our tees, of course, but also the American places where our products are made. 

At the heart of a community's sense of place, I believe, is its history. A deep vein of nostalgia forms the essence of Stay. 

While change is inevitable -- "All that ever stays the same is change," per The Waterboys -- we can stay connected to the past that got us to where we are today.

Hence, this spring we're introducing three tees that honor central Pennsylvania brands from the past, two of them with decades-long histories, one with a fleeting existence but a cool logo that we felt compelled to preserve.

The first tee features Herpak hot dogs, a family-owned business in Harrisburg that operated for at least 74 years but, as far as my research can determine, quietly disappeared from the landscape in the late 1980s.

Owned by Hervitz Packing Co., Herpak began in 1911 and apparently spent the entirety of its existence at 1146 S. Cameron St., Harrisburg. Throughout its history, Herpak supported 4-H by purchasing prize-winning steers from the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Pampered products

An article in Harrisburg's Evening News in 1941 reported the arrest of Christ Gavid Hofsass, 61, "who had been an employee of the company," for stealing a can of lard and 80 pounds of meat.

In 1955, Herpak celebrated the opening of its new building with a newspaper ad bearing the headline, "Better Than Ever."

Touting the new plant's technological advances, the ad noted: "You should see how these Herpak products are pampered."

Herpak products also included bologna, ham, bacon and sausage.

To mark its 45th anniversary in 1956, Herpak ran a newspaper ad in the Lebanon Daily News that offered a coupon good for 10 cents off one pound of Herpak franks. The ad described them as "all meat and smoked with natural hickory logs" and declared Herpak "the best 'dog-gone' franks in Pennsylvania."

Dog-gone but, thanks to our tee, not forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

Stay is on the move in April and May

Appearances, ProductsNeal GouletComment
The Stay bigtop, coming to pop-up show near you.

The Stay bigtop, coming to pop-up show near you.

If April brings showers, well, there's not much we can do about the weather.

Regardless, we'll be right as rain for our April and May shows because we'll either be indoors or under the Stay bigtop. (OK, it's only a 10-foot-by-10-foot tent, but it's Stay-branded, made in the USA by our friends at TentCraft, and pretty awesome.)

We have six appearances scheduled, in Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties. We'll be back in our hometown, Hershey, for the first time since December. Each of these events is free and open to the public.

Here's the full slate:

April 7: Harrisburg Flea from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Strawberry Square, 320 Market St.

April 21: Go Green in the City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown York (outdoors)

April 28: York Flea from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Collusion Tapworks, 105 S. Howard St. (outdoors)

May 5: Harrisburg Flea from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Midtown Cinema, 250 Reily St. (outdoors)

May 12: Hershey ArtFest & Flower Show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Hershey (outdoors)

May 19: Spring Harvest hosted by Honeysuckle Shop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4201 Harvest Road, Manheim. [Update May 2: This event has been cancelled.]

We hope to see you out and about this spring. Stop by, say hey, and maybe pick up a U.S.-made tee. As always, Stay stickers are free!

 

Tale of the tee: Working Hard in Harrisburg

ProductsNeal GouletComment
Elizabeth, a customer we met at the Harrisburg Flea in March 2018.

Elizabeth, a customer we met at the Harrisburg Flea in March 2018.

The older woman approached Stay's table at the Harrisburg Flea at Strawberry Square. She had a knowing look on her pleasant face as she focused on our "Working Hard in Harrisburg" tee, which adorned a torso mannequin at one end of the table.

Do you recognize this artwork? I asked.

Without hesitation, she correctly identified it as the Pennsylvania Worker statue outside the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry building in the capital city.

The statue was the final piece to the shirt design, which drew its initial inspiration from the English rock band The Clash. Specifically, "working hard in Harrisburg" is a lyric from the song "Clampdown," found on the great double album, "London Calling."

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As I explained here, The Clash produced "London Calling" in 1979 against the backdrop of the partial core meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant south of Harrisburg that March. (Note the cooling towers in the background of this video, which shows the band performing "Clampdown" on the old ABC series "Fridays.")

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones wrote "Clampdown," an anti-establishment tune that seemingly otherwise has nothing to do with Harrisburg. But it's Paul Simonon who appears on the album cover, smashing his bass guitar against the stage.

Pennsylvania worker

It's an iconic photo, but it pains me to think that anyone would destroy a guitar. I thought a celebration of the Pennsylvania worker, and by extension the American laborer, was the perfect substitution for our brand's focus on U.S.-made products.

For the artwork I turned to two friends who are heavily invested in Harrisburg as residents and owners of Yellow Bird Cafe in midtown. I once worked at a Harrisburg ad agency with Stephanie Perry, who is a graphic designer.  Her husband, Ammon, is an illustrator and created our version of the Pennsylvania Worker while Steph handled the lettering. (The font is called Housearama Kingpin, from House Industries in Delaware.)

You can purchase the Working Hard in Harrisburg tee here. But I also encourage you to do the hard work and see the statue for yourself at 651 Boas St., Harrisburg.

Baltimore artist William F. Duffy created the Pennsylvania Worker statue.

Baltimore artist William F. Duffy created the Pennsylvania Worker statue.

 

 

A new year, new Stay stuff made in the USA

Products, AppearancesNeal GouletComment
New items arriving in early 2018

New items arriving in early 2018

Most of our focus in 2018 is on getting out and about, namely bringing the Stay brand to pop-up events in the Hershey, Harrisburg, Lancaster and York areas.

We already have great U.S.-made tees branded for those communities, as well as Pennsylvania and the United States always available on our website. But we're always looking for opportunities to bring Stay stuff to where consumers gather in person.

That's why you'll see us at Harrisburg Flea, Creatively Lancaster's Makers Markets, York Flea, and Market on Chocolate in Hershey, among other appearances.

But we have a short list of new products, shown above, that we'll be rolling out, too, including:

USA pennant: Made for us in Big Run, Pa., by Standard Pennant Co., which has been serving the corporate, high school and college markets since 1919. The pennant design is a perfect complement to our USA tee

Lititz tee: America's coolest small town (winner 2013) gets the Stay treatment with this design, which is inspired by a sign on the replica train station/welcome center in Lititz Springs Park. We used water-based ink for a retro look that really pops.

Stay ball cap: Arriving in March, our second ball cap features white contrast stitching on charcoal fabric, with an embroidered Stay patch sewn on the front. The mid-profile design has a more streamlined look than our trucker cap. Both caps feature plastic adjustable straps and are made for us by Graffiti Caps in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, we've had a number of requests for a women's tank top, so look for that in the spring. [Update March 25, 2018: Try as we did, we could not find a U.S.-made tank that had the look, fit and price point that we felt comfortable offering to the public. So, we're tabling this idea for now.] We also plan to introduce our first long-sleeved tee in the fall.

Of course, we always welcome product suggestions. Please feel free to offer them here or in person at one of our pop-up events.

Find Stay at these local retailers

Retailers, ProductsNeal GouletComment

Besides what we offer on our website and at pop-up events, Stay tees are available in limited selections at these local retailers during the holiday season:
    •    Knock Knock Boutique, 110 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey
    •    Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society museum store, 40 Northeast Drive, Hershey
    •    Arthur & Daughters, 49 N. Beaver St., York
Our deepest thanks to them for supporting Stay, and to you for shopping local.
 

Stay Apparel Co. partners with Hershey Volunteer Fire Department on fundraising T-shirt

Community, ProductsNeal GouletComment
Station 48, 21 W. Caracas Ave., Hershey

Station 48, 21 W. Caracas Ave., Hershey

Stay Apparel Co. is partnering with the Hershey Volunteer Fire Department on a fundraising T-shirt featuring Station 48’s tower.

Launched this month at stayapparel.com, Stay offers custom U.S.-made clothing and accessories.

Stay designed and screen printed the fire department shirt. The heather red shirt features, in white ink, a badge-like logo incorporating the tower and the words, “Forty-eight, since 1905.”

All proceeds will benefit the department’s capital campaign.

The shirts are $25 each and can be purchased at stayapparel.com or by appointment at Station 48, 21 W. Caracas Ave., Hershey, which can be reached at 717-533-2953.

Made from a cotton/polyester blend, the shirts come in unisex sizes of small, medium, large and XL. Sizes 2XL and 3XL are available only at Station 48.

Defining Stay and a brand of place

Vendors, Branding, ProductsNeal Goulet
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I told a friend about Stay Apparel Co. in the spring.

She called it “an interesting brand name.” I wondered just how to take that and hoped she didn’t mean it in the Chinese curse “interesting times” sort of way.

I didn’t ask her to clarify, but I have been asked what the name means. I hope that our tagline – “An authentic American brand of place” – and place-specific T-shirts offer compelling clues as to what Stay is about.

Of course, our name invokes stay in the sense of being somewhere, as a short-term visitor or guest or a more permanent resident. Stay’s mission is to celebrate those places, and we’re starting with shirts branded for Hershey, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster and Philadelphia, as well as Pennsylvania and the U.S. of A.

But we also honor those American cities and towns where our products are made, from my hometown of Lewiston, Maine, to Long Beach, Calif., from Shelbyville, Ind., to Cleveland.

As part of the process of developing Stay’s brand identity, I came across a 2012 column written by Edward T. McMahon, a land-use expert with the Urban Land Institute. He discussed "[w]hat attracts people to a place and keeps them there."

"Place is more than just a location on a map. A sense of place is a unique collection of qualities and characteristics – visual, cultural, social, and environmental – that provide meaning to a location. Sense of place is what makes one city or town different from another, but sense of place is also what makes our physical surroundings worth caring about."

Honoring those unique qualities that create a sense of place, that’s what defines Stay Apparel Co. for me.


 

Yes, Lauren, Stay Apparel Co. is a thing

Branding, ProductsNeal GouletComment
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The idea for Stay Apparel Co. evolved over several years. I remember email exchanges with a designer friend about creating throwback T-shirts, but the concept was sufficiently vague that it didn’t get very far.

I don’t recall what inspired me on May 18, 2015, but that’s the day I paid the princely sum of $1.17 (after a $12 discount) to purchase the stayapparel.com domain. Even at that stage, I hadn’t figured out just what Stay would be.

But in my mind, “Stay” always connoted a sense of place. I remember my wife telling me she had explained the meaning of the name to her co-worker Lauren.

“Yeah, I get it,” Lauren said.

Sometimes when you’re chasing a dream and it still seems unfocused and maybe even unattainable, the smallest encouragement can keep hope alive.

Meanwhile, beginning in 2013, I had started blogging (twice per year, at the Fourth of July and Christmas) about American-made products, highlighting ones I had used and researching others that I was just learning about.

And the more U.S. products I found, the more I wanted to discover. It became a passion that I liken to being an indie music fan in the early 1980s, R.E.M. leading me to Husker Du and Dream Syndicate and The Replacements and on and on.

I spent most of 2016 pursuing another project that just didn’t seem feasible financially or timewise, so I revisited Stay. But I didn’t call it Stay. It was a trial run, basically, just me having a couple of products custom made – a Hershey pennant and a Hershey knit hat – and trying to sell them under the banner of my public relations business, Goulet Communications.

The response was encouraging enough that after close consultation with my family, we decided to launch Stay in 2017.

We had a name, a domain, and a still-evolving idea of what the Stay brand would represent. Always at its essence, however, was a commitment to U.S.-made products. Starting in January, we spent nine months birthing the Stay brand you see today.

In August, my wife was at lunch when she ran into Lauren, who noticed Sara’s zip bag with the Stay flag logo on it.

Mind you, they haven’t worked together for a couple of years now.

“Is Stay a thing?” Lauren said enthusiastically.

Yes, Lauren, it is a thing. And maybe a name with Staying power.